Tips to Save Money on Prescriptions

<b>Tips to Save Money on Prescriptions</b>“></td>
<p>(<a href=NewsUSA) – Many Americans rely on prescription drugs to maintain their health and well-being. But costly medications can drain wallets, especially in a weak economy, leading some patients to risk cutting back on prescriptions or skipping dosages.

“Many consumers are having prescriptions written but are not having them filled,” says Mark Brueckl, the Academy of Managed Care Pharmacy’s assistant director of pharmacy affairs.

But finding affordable prescriptions isn’t impossible. Switching to generic medications can save money without compromising health — generics must pass rigorous testing by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration to demonstrate they are as safe and effective as their branded counterpart.

Roughly 80 top-selling brand drugs are losing patent protection between 2009 and 2012, meaning generic versions will soon become available. According to the Congressional Budget Office, generic drugs save consumers an estimated $8 billion to $10 billion annually at retail pharmacies.

If a generic version of your brand drug does not exist, consider asking your doctor if another generic product is available in the same therapeutic category. Over-the-counter versions of medications might be available. Some pharmaceutical manufacturer programs also offer patient assistant programs with discount rate cards, trial cards or samples.

Others options for saving money include:

* Filling prescriptions through mail-order programs and ordering multiple months’ worth of prescriptions, thus saving copayments and shipping costs. These options are often available through pharmacy benefit managers.

* Splitting tablets in half. Some prescription drugs cost the same per tablet, regardless of the dosage. See if your doctor can write a prescription for double your dosage — for example, 80 milligrams instead of 40 milligrams — then split the tablets in half. Never halve drugs with special coatings or slow-release formulas.

* See if you’re eligible for Medicare. If so, you qualify for Medicare prescription drug coverage regardless of income or health status. Go to and click on the “Medicare” tab.

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Understand Your Prescriptions

<b>Understand Your Prescriptions</b>“></td>
<p>(<a href=NewsUSA) – To the average patient, visiting a doctor’s office can be overwhelming. Patients may encounter several doctors, hear confusing medical jargon and leave with multiple prescriptions for unfamiliar drugs.

Patients who understand the medicines they take, and why, stand a better chance of improving their health and saving money. Pharmacists can play a key role in helping patients achieve these goals.

Each year, the U.S. health care system spends more than $177 billion to treat patients suffering effects from the inappropriate use of medications. Most of these incidents could be avoided if patients better understood their prescriptions.

Mark Brueckl, assistant director of pharmacy affairs at the Academy of Managed Care Pharmacy (AMCP), an organization that promotes sound medication management principles and strategies to improve health care, offers the following tips for patients:

* Review your entire medication history with your doctor and pharmacist. Compile a list of all the drugs that you take, including prescriptions, over-the-counter therapies and dietary supplements. Note any allergies or problems you have had with medications.

* Ask lots of questions. Before filling a prescription, make sure that you understand what your medication is for, including its side effects and potential risks. Talk to your pharmacist about how to take the drug and what could happen if you do not take it correctly.

* Be prepared. Consider bringing a family member to serve as your advocate at both the doctor’s office and the pharmacy counter when starting on a new medication. Use your health plan’s 800 number to speak with a knowledgeable clinical pharmacist from the comfort of your home.

* Consider the alternatives. If you are experiencing problems with a prescription, ask your doctor or pharmacist if a different medication is available, including lower-cost generics.

* Learn more about your medications. Information is available online from medical references such as WebMD and the medicine’s manufacturers. Many health plans and pharmacy benefit managers also offer online resources with clinical and cost information about your drugs.

* Find out if you’re eligible for a medication therapy management (MTM) program offered by your health plan. MTM allows pharmacists to review a patient’s overall medication therapy and then work with physicians and other providers to improve therapeutic outcomes.

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AMCP Offers Advice for Traveling With Medications

<b>AMCP Offers Advice for Traveling With Medications</b>“></td>
<p>(<a href=NewsUSA) – Advanced planning for traveling with medications can prevent consumers from spending their precious vacation time at the pharmacy counter or on the phone with their doctor.

One of the most common mistakes occurs when consumers take a full supply of medications on vacation and then lose them, says Mark Brueckl, the Academy of Managed Care Pharmacy’s assistant director of pharmacy affairs. He recommends taking just enough for the length of your trip, plus one or two days extra.

In the fun of the moment, vacationers also may forget proper storage methods for their medications, Brueckl notes. Consumers must check to see if any of their prescriptions are sensitive to heat, sun or moisture. Medicines should not be exposed to levels of high heat, such as being stored in a car’s trunk or glove compartment, or brought to the beach.

Another common mistake involves waiting until the last day to get prescriptions refilled. Consumers may encounter a pharmacy not having the drug in stock, Brueckl says.

Other suggestions for traveling with drugs:

* Pack medications in your carry-on luggage. If your luggage is lost or delayed, you will not miss any dosages if they’re kept with you.

* Photocopy important documents and/or cards in case your wallet is lost or stolen, or if something happens to your luggage. Put a copy of each document in every piece of luggage and carry-on item.

* Ask your doctor for a letter outlining your health conditions and prescriptions, including the dosages and scientific names of all medicines you’re taking. Keep this information handy in case you get stopped internationally by customs or need to obtain mediations abroad due to an emergency or lost luggage.

* Call the consulate of the country you’re visiting and ask if there are any restrictions on bringing medications in to the country (

* Important items to pack: first aid kit, health insurance and prescription cards, medical summary, supply of medicines in original pharmacy bottles, medicines for common travel issues (pain, antacid, laxative, diarrhea medicine, antihistamine, cough medicine, motion sickness medicine), sunscreen, lip balm and insect repellant, bracelet for life-threatening allergies.

The Academy of Managed Care Pharmacy is a national professional association of pharmacists and other health care practitioners who serve society by using sound medication-management principles and strategies to improve health care for all. For more information about AMCP, visit the Web site at